Vets warn over more Hendra virus cases

Beef Central, 31/05/2012


Following the deaths of two horses infected with the Hendra virus in Queensland this week, the Australian Veterinary Association reminds horse owners to take precautions around any sick horse.

With the unprecedented number of Hendra virus cases in Queensland and NSW last year, the AVA expects more cases in the next few months.

AVA spokesman Dr Barry Smyth said the new cases were a reminder to horse owners to take all necessary precautions that reduce the risk of spreading the disease.

“It’s a timely reminder for horse owners to prevent contact between horses and flying foxes as far as possible and to adopt good hygiene practices when handling any sick horse. It’s also important to contact a veterinarian as soon as possible when your horse is sick,” he said.

“Although so far the virus has appeared predominantly in Queensland, there have also been cases in NSW and in theory it’s possible that Hendra could appear anywhere in Australia at any time."

Personal protective equipment and clothing were critically important in reducing the risk of contracting and spreading the disease.

“The AVA welcomed the Queensland government’s investment of $1 million over four years to allow private vets to claim for personal protective equipment used while investigating suspected Hendra virus cases, however we call on other state governments to step in with similar programs to help prevent Hendra infections in people," Dr Smyth said.

“These two recent cases also demonstrate the urgency of a Hendra vaccine for horses and the AVA believes all horses should be vaccinated against the disease. Horse vaccination and microchipping will give vets, horse owners and handlers a high level of protection against Hendra virus” he said.


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